Summer Festival 2019

Monday 19th August, 2019 - 11:41am

On Sunday 4th August, St Mary’s Church was packed with nearly two hundred and seventy guests to listen to Mousehole Male Voice Choir undertake their 87th Summer Festival Concert. This year the choir celebrates its 110th anniversary and as always the choir invite a very special guest to appear alongside the choir. Over the history of the choir, the special guests at this concert have included Soprano Dame Felicity Lott, Valerie Masterton, Sir Bryn Terfel, Cornish baritone Benjamin Luxon and Faryl Smith. Adding to this illustrious group, this year’s special guest was the renowned Welsh Soprano Shân Cothi. The choir had the pleasure of singing with her last year on their tour to Wales as guests of Builth MVC. Shân Cothi is well known in Wales, for her appearances on television, presenting a daily weekday morning programme on BBC Radio Cymru entitled ‘Bore Cothi’ and is also a versatile classical and music theatre soloist. Joining her on piano was Jeffrey Howard. He is also accompanist, singer and arranger for Only Men Aloud!, winners of the BBC competition ‘Last Choir Standing’. For the past 18 years, Jeffrey has held a post as vocal coach at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and at Welsh National Opera and Welsh National Youth Opera. He is also the current musical director of Treorchy Male Choir.

Attending the concert was Penzance Town Mayor, Nicole Broadhurst and her consort. Amongst the audience were many nationalities from Europe as well as home grown tourists and locals who had not heard the choir sing before. This year seven new items were added to the repertoire which included Mark Hayes arrangement of ‘Music Makes Me Feel Alive’, Martin Shaw’s arrangement of ‘With A Voice Of Singing’ and Dan Forrest’s arrangement of ‘How Great Thou Art’.

Shân showed why she is such a great classical and music theatre soloist as her performance was remarkable for dramatic subtlety as for vocal prowess. Her music covered all aspects of Classical and Theatre, from the Ivor Novello medley through to Mozart. She was extremely versatile and technically assured along with her sterling professionalism and acting skills which was very apparent in Adele’s Laughing Aria from Die Fledermaus (The Laughing Song), with our very own baritone Bob Aldridge playing her ‘prop’. His acting would have probably got him nominated for an Oscar in the Best Supporting Role category! With the loss of our President, Rev Julyan Drew, she sang the traditional Welsh lullaby ‘Suo Gân’ in a gorgeously even and creamy voice and dedicated it to Julyan’s wife, Liz and the family. In particular the lines “Ai angylion fry sy’n gwenu, arnat ti yn gwenu’n llon (The angels above smiling at you in your peaceful rest) will resonate amongst us in our memory of him. Shân deservedly received a standing ovation for her singing which absolutely ‘wowed’ the audience.

At the midway point of the concert it is traditional to recognise the long service given by members to the choir. This year 230 years of service was recognised. The choir chairman Jon Pender gave 10 year badges to Roger Stephens, Vance Webster and John Eddy, and 20 year badges to Malvin McClary and Ernie Osborne. Jon then invited Liz Drew to present 30 years badges to David Harvey, Reg Osborne, Bill McGraa and Julian Dale and finally a 40 years badge to Paul Worth. Both Julian and Paul started singing with the choir when they were 12 years old!

The concert was finally brought to an end with Shân joining the choir and Jeffrey Howard accompanying in ‘Morte Christi’ and the Alwyn Humpreys arrangement of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. Following the concert, the choir, their families and Shân and her partner Dâi sang the night away at The Bath Inn. Thanks must go to Paul Gooding for providing the hospitality which everyone enjoyed.

From the comments on social media, it was a concert that was well appreciated. Two comments in particular sum the evening up’ “I had my brother and brother-in-law with me from Bodmin. They have never heard you before, you had both of them crying at different times because of the sound and how you sang certain songs. They were amazed and very very glad I asked if they wanted to come. What a night! Fantastic sound, well done all”, and “Excellent concert the choir were on top form. Shan and Jeff were just the icing the cake, great night!”

Concerts like this do not happen by chance. Our musical team has again dedicated their time and effort in preparing the choir for this, our most prestigious event of the year. Thank you  Annette Turton, Dave Williams and our MD, Stephen Lawry for ensuring the Summer Concert is such a wonderful event.

(Photographs courtesy of Ray Sowden and Shân Cothi)

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